Google Translate:

When we refer to Google, we instantly think about the most popular, fast and powerful search engine on the web. Although Google’s finest and most successful service to date is actually their search engine, the company is moving forward to offer other high quality services based on the web.

Their translator has now become not just the most popular worldwide, but also a reference in terms of mainstream translation and language resources. Google Translate can translate any kind of text (including websites) into a huge variety of languages.

Apparently the success of this translator is the massive amount of words that it can handle. It is based on statistics and the main corpus of the system is based on more than a billion words. Today, the Google Translate service offers a variety of 52 languages to choose from.

To start translating a text we only have to use the intuitive user interface where we can type or paste the text we want to be translated and choose the language it is written in and the language we want the text to be translated to.  We can also import a document straight from our computer or external memory device. To do so, we must click on the “translate a document” option right below the text field.

After having used it in various occasions we will for sure be convinced about its simplicity of use, and that is exactly what it is: a simple and very powerful online free translation tool. But we cannot expect this online translator to function as professional human. It is an automatic translator and with a few minutes of use we can easily identify that.

For example I have noticed that small texts give better translation results than larger ones. Also, paragraphs with smaller clauses and well structured ones. In very long texts it would be useful to divide the text into various portions in order to get better final results. Sometimes the translator will not be able to distinguish between prepositions or pronouns that can only be used in certain ways in the original language for the text.

As we can see in the image below as an example, the accuracy of the translator is simply incredible, but of course the result is not perfect and it lacks grammaticality.

These are some of the problems that I have come across:

Punctuation: The so common use of the coma in Spanish, is often a problem when translating into English. One of the first things we can perceive when translating particularly long pieces, is that the wrong and useless use of the comas in the final English version makes the result artificial in form. The use of dashes is also a recurrent mistake by the translator.

Verbs and Nouns: Some nouns that in English can be used as non inflected forms of a verb, are usually translated as nouns into Spanish and viceversa.

Compound words: The Google translator has definitely problems when translating words that come together as a single unit. It tends to change the meaning of the word when translating from English into Spanish and usually translates the compounds as separate words when the translation is into Spanish.

Determiners: The translator usually lacks the use of determiners  when translating from English to Spanish. This is often related to clauses where names are the subjects. Also, the translator fails when at differentiating between the Spanish “de” and “del”.

We must point out that the most common errors with prepositions have been solved almost completely.

Honestly, I think we are in front of the best free translator available now. It offers not just a very good way to approach the first draft of a translation, but also the usefulness of such a fast service powered by Google. It is certainly impressive.

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